Mid-East Appetizerbaba-ganoush

Puréed Eggplant
Baba Ganoush
(Serves 8)

Store-bought Baba Ganoush is just not as good as homemade. Feel free to adapt this recipe to your tastes: add more or less garlic and lemon juice.

1 large eggplant
2 large garlic cloves (crushed)
3 T tahini (see sidebar)
3 T lemon juice
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
salt to taste
2-3 T yogurt—optional
1-2 T olive oil—to garnish
paprika—to garnish
fresh parsley (chopped)—to garnish

Preheat oven to 350. Place the whole (unpeeled) eggplant in the oven and bake 35-45 minutes, till the meat is soft inside. Allow the eggplant to cool; then scoop out the insides into bowl or a food processor. Add the garlic, tahini, lemon juice, pepper flakes and salt. Blend to a smooth, creamy texture. Taste for salt, and add yogurt if you want. 

Turn out into a bowl or, more traditionally, a platter. Create a small “crater” in the center and dribble with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with paprika and some finely chopped parsley. Serve with pita.

| See more Mid-Eastern recipes |

Tips & Glossary

Many of the ingredients used for Middle-Eastern cooking may not be in your spice shelf, but you can find them at Mid-Eastern food stores. So to avoid frustration, make a list of the items you need before trying out the recipes.

Toss any old, even unopened, spice jars because they’ve probably lost their distinctive flavors. Put them on your shopping list.

Bulgur Wheat: wheat grains that have been par-boiled, dried, and de-branned. Bulgur has a high fiber content and wonderfully nutty flavor.

Cardamom: related to ginger. Pods (green, brown, or black) are the best way to store the spice, although high-quality ground is readily available. A equivalency: 10 pods = 1½ tsp. ground cardamom.

Coriander: aka cilantro, Chinese, or Mexican parsley. Fresh leaves and dried ground seeds are used in Mid-East, Asian, Indian, and Mexican cuisines.

Cumin: related to parsley and carrot plant; an important ingredient in chili powder. Used especially in curries, but also in Mid-Eastern, Mexican and Asian dishes. Cumom has an earthy, peppery flavor.

Deep Frying: oil must be hot enough; otherwise food will be soggy and greasy. Use a deep-fry thermometer to ensure proper temperature is reached. When cool, oil can be strained, refrigerated, and re-used.

Filo: aka phyllo; paper-thin sheets of raw, unleavened flour dough. Purchase frozen in any grocery store and follow directions on package for thawing. When working with one sheet, keep others covered with a damp towel to prevent drying out.

Rosewater: distilled from rose petals and used to flavor Mid-Eastern and Asian cooking. You can make your own—but why? Purchase it at Asian or Middle Eastern food stores.

Semolina flour: made from hardy durum wheat. A yellowish flour, it's used in Asian and Mid-East cooking (couscous). In the U.S., it's Farina, a breakfast cereal.

Tahini: paste from ground, hulled sesame seeds. A major ingredient in hummus and other Mid-Eastern and Asian foods, you can purchase at most grocery stores.


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